Times Square is known for being home to some of the best productions in the world — but restaurants in the Theatre District don’t exactly have the same reputation. That said, there are some gems when it comes to the food on Broadway as long as you know where to look. Whether you’re an out-of-towner trying to find a place to eat before a show or you’re a local wondering where to eat in Times Square, we’ve got the perfect recommendations for you.
Best Pretheater Snacks in NYC
Chef Hooni Kim is a veteran of New York fine-dining institutions Daniel and Masa, but there’s nothing stuffy about Danji, the Korean small-plates joint he opened in 2010 in the Theatre District. Inventive tapas such as bulgogi beef sliders or kimchi poutine (fries smothered in corn banchan, bacon, and sour cream) is meant for sharing, so you’ll want to order a few to sample. It’s the perfect spot for a snack before your show. Be sure to make reservations in advance—the restaurant seats only 36.
Closest theatres: August Wilson Theatre, Neil Simon Theatre
346 West 52nd Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues), danjinyc.com, (212) 586-2880
Best Pretheater Dinner in NYC
No trip to New York City would be complete without pizza, but not all pies are created equal. At Don Antonio, a restaurant conveniently located near the Gershwin Theatre, the pizzas are made in accordance with strict Neapolitan-style guidelines. So your order—a roughly 12-inch pie cooked in a wood-fired oven—comes out within minutes of when you place it, and thus, there’s no need to stress about your dinner making you late to your show.
Closest theatres: Circle in the Square Theatre, Gershwin Theatre
309 West 50th Street (near 8th Avenue), donantoniopizza.com, (646) 719-1043
Best Broadway-Proximity Restaurant for Groups
Carmine’s Italian Restaurant
There’s no shortage of Italian restaurants near Times Square, but Carmine’s stands out for its old-time New York ambiance, its giant menu, and its even larger portion sizes. Dishes like lasagna and chicken parmigiana are meant to be enjoyed family-style; guests who’ve dined here say entrees can serve four to five people. The online reservation system can book tables of up to 20 people, and the restaurant is wheelchair-accessible, so you can accommodate everyone in your party.
Closest theatres: Minskoff Theatre, Shubert Theatre
200 West 44th Street (at 7th Avenue), carminesnyc.com, (212) 221-3800
Best Theatre District Restaurant for Dinner With Colleagues
Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
This ornately decorated Victorian restaurant is named after Lillie Langtry, a 19th century British socialite who came to America to pursue her dream of becoming a famous actress. You can grab an assortment of pub fare, like Irish-style curry fries and pastrami bites, with coworker friends—or if you’re entertaining a business partner before a Broadway show, you can make the meal more of an experience with cocktails and large plates, like shepherd’s pie and steak frites.
Closest theatres: Ambassador Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theatre
249 West 49th Street (near 8th Avenue), lilliesnyc.com, (212) 957-4530
Best Broadway-Proximity Restaurant for Families
The Theatre District outpost of this New York institution doesn’t offer much in the way of seating—you’ll want to send one member of your party to stake out a table while another orders, if possible. But one bite into a Shack Burger or a ’Shroom Burger (a portobello cap stuffed with two types of cheese and deep-fried) and you’ll see why the chain is a hit among children and adults alike. Of course, no trip to the Shack is complete without dessert: You can’t go wrong with one of the chain’s featured shake flavors. (Need to stay awake before the show? We go nuts over the Fair Trade Coffee Shake!)
Closest theatres: Al Hirschfeld Theatre, Majestic Theatre
691 8th Avenue (at 44th Street), shakeshack.com, (646) 435-0135
Best Theatre District Restaurant for Picky Eaters
This restaurant offers six different variations on its signature meatball dish—beef, chicken, spicy pork, vegetarian, buffalo chicken, and a daily special—that you can choose to complement with your favorite sauce and enjoy any number of ways (on a brioche roll, over spaghetti, or “naked” are just a few of your options). Even dessert is customizable; you can choose your own combination of homemade cookies and ice cream to make an ice cream sandwich. Insider tip: While you can’t make traditional reservations, you can call the restaurant to put your name on the waiting list before you arrive.
Closest theatres: Studio 54 Theatre, Broadway Theatre
798 9th Avenue (at 53rd Street), themeatballshop.com, (212) 230-586
Best Broadway-Proximity Restaurant for Dates
Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe
Casellula is an excellent Broadway date-night spot before or after your show. In this cozy café, you can choose from a daily selection of about 40 options to assemble your own cheese plate, or ask the knowledgeable servers for suggestions for the best combinations and wine pairings based on your preferences. And if you want to enjoy the romantic setting but aren’t a fromage enthusiast, other offerings, including stuffed peppadew peppers, octopus salad, and chocolate cake, round out the menu.
Closest theatres: August Wilson Theatre, Neil Simon Theatre
401 West 52nd Street (near 9th Avenue), casellulahk.com, (212) 247-8137
Best Broadway Diner
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Yes, Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a tourist trap. But, oh, what a tourist trap. Aspiring theater stars (some of whom are more talented than others) make up the staff of singing servers at this restaurant on Broadway. So while the standard-issue diner food is admittedly overpriced (bacon and eggs will set you back $15), the experience of having your waitress belt out a tune in between delivering your coffee and your pancakes makes up for it, particularly if you’re a big musical-theater fan.
Closest theatres: Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre, Gershwin Theatre
1650 Broadway (between 51st and 52nd Streets), ellensstardustdiner.com, (212) 956-5151
Best Theatre District Restaurant Splurge
The prices at this French seafood restaurant aren’t for the faint of heart: Tasting menu options range from $150 for four courses to $360 for the eight-course “chef’s tasting menu” with wine pairings. But people who’ve dined at the three-Michelin-star restaurant say the combination of impeccable service and perfectly prepared dishes, such as charred octopus and crab-filled calamari, are worth every penny. (The lounge does offer an à la carte menu if you’d like to try the restaurant without the tasting menu prices.) Reservations can be hard to come by; check the website on the first day of the month for bookings up to 30 days out.
Closest theatres: Cadillac Garden Winter Theatre, Gershwin Theatre
155 West 51st Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues), le-bernardin.com, (212) 554-1515
Best Post-Broadway Show Restaurant
Looking for somewhere to eat after a Broadway show? Located on the third floor of the Renaissance New York Times Square, this bar and restaurant offers unparalleled views of the Square’s famous lights and billboards. While the opportunity to sightsee from your table is the main attraction, guests who’ve dined here say the limited menu of elevated American food holds up. One word of warning: You can expect New York prices if you’re coming to order drinks and chat about the show you’ve just seen—beers start at $8, and cocktails go up to $16.
Closest theatres: Palace Theatre, Cort Theatre
2 Times Square (7th Avenue at 48th Street), rloungetimessquare.com, (212) 261-5200